Government education policy slammed over GCSE grades drop

A new government policy of forcing pupils to retake English and Maths GCSEs has been linked to a sharp fall in GCSE results.

As thousands of 16-year-olds around the country opened their results, it emerged that the percentage getting a C or above had fallen by 2.1%, the highest year-on-year fall since O-levels were abolished.

Critics linked the fall to a government policy, introduced last year, of making resits for English and Maths compulsory for those who fail to get a C.

Mark Dawe, former head of the OCR exam board and chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “Surely this is evidence enough that hitting students over the head with the same form of learning and assessment is not the way forward.

“Maths and English are the most vital skills for economic and social mobility but these results show that repeating the same exercise doesn’t work.”

The proportion of pupils getting an A*-C fell by 2.3%, whilst those achieving the same grade in English fell by 5.2%.

However, Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said: “For those 17-year-olds who have struggled to achieve good grades in maths, we are seeing 4,000 more successful retakes of those exams, delivering better prospects for every one of those young people.‎”

It’s not the first time the government’s education policy has come under scrutiny. Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary, was forced to abandon a keystone policy of turning all schools into academies after widespread opposition, including from council leaders.

Morgan was replaced by Justine Greening by new prime minister Theresa May. Education may seem to have fallen down the political agenda as the nation deals with the fallout from Brexit, but if the controversy over GCSE grades is any indication, it may cause just as many problems for the new Cabinet.

(Maisie Shay (left) and Florence Cutts (right) celebrate their GCSE results at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham. C. Joe Giddens from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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